Knowledge and Love

To deliver this kind of message is very hazardous, for in doing so I indict myself maybe more than anyone else. It might be wise to plead the fifth at this point and simply keep my mouth shut (or my computer in this case) rather than incriminate myself by saying things that likely can and maybe should be used against me. But for the sake of honesty and to challenge myself at least as much as I desire others to challenge themselves to grow and break out of the rut, I will take the risk to express these thoughts.

One of the greatest inhibitors that prevents us from discerning the voice of God to our hearts and minds many times when studying the Word is the assumption that we already know what a passage means. This can be an increased problem for a person who may have had special insights already with some passage, for they can easily assume that they have already achieved the breakthroughs needed to understand a passage and now the only thing left is to spend their effort convincing others of their insights rather than joining others in humble expectation with an open mind for brand new revelations.

It is a constant challenge to lay aside preconceived ideas in order to open the heart up and clear the passageways to receive something new from God. We tend to think that to lay aside our opinions and preconceptions is somehow to admit that we were wrong, and heaven forbid we ever admit we might have mistaken beliefs. But laying aside preconceived ideas does not at all infer that they are necessarily wrong but is simply a means of making room for more input from the Holy Spirit.

When we are willing to lay down our weapons, our knowledge, our special insights and to clear the decks of everything we think we know while meditating in the Word in the presence of God, we are inviting Him to come and have opportunity to relay to us more wisdom, more knowledge, more intimacy even to the point that it will many times surprise us. These new revelations may confirm what we thought previously while coming from a completely different angle, or they may challenge us to modify or even discard what we were sure we knew before. If we are willing to be open-minded we may also come to learn that there is often more than one “right” way of looking at a passage and that God can choose to relate to different people in different ways with sometimes possibly even seemingly contradictory explanations in order to meet them where they are. If we make it a habit to go around trying to correct everyone else's interpretations to fit our own instead of giving everyone the freedom to be fully convinced in their own mind, we violate their personal accountability to God and try to take over His role as their teacher. Not a very good idea I would think.

Another great danger is getting caught in the mindset of feeling important, valuable or accepted with God or with those around us because of our perceived ability to be able to discern special insights from the Word or about spiritual matters. This can be a very subtle decoy in our lives, but when we fail to spend as much time seeking to apply and internalize the things we are learning as we do seeking to sort them out intellectually, we can easily slip into the feeling that we are somehow superior to others or more important in the kingdom and it becomes our job to then teach others what we know rather than to utilize what we are learning to reform our own internal attitudes in order to love others better.

It is so, so much easier to expostulate on spiritual matters than it is to practice them through love with humility. But loving someone may at times mean refraining from telling them what we know in deference to listening to their heart and interceding for them before God. The old adage is still very true: People don't care how much you know until they know how much you care. There is far more truth and instruction in that adage than we often are willing to practice or believe. It sounds profound, but when it comes to actually acting on it it is so much easier to pour knowledge on people instead of stepping back and taking the time to cultivate care in our hearts to precede any instruction.

Spiritual wisdom and knowledge may be more for our own benefit than for others many times. God gives us insights but He also wants us to internalize these insights rather than running off to tell other people how smart we are becoming. Fresh revelations can be very exciting, exhilarating and empowering and there is nothing wrong with feeling that way. But what we choose to do as a response to those feelings can sometimes be more detrimental than uplifting for others.

It is vital that our primary focal point in our relationships with others revolve around selfless love and service rather than propounding how much we know about spiritual matters. Again, it is very good to be knowledgeable and we all need to put forth far more effort than we do to this end. But knowledge can easily puff up as Paul pointed out while love needs humility to be effective.

I like the different renditions of what Paul said about this from various translations of
1 Corinthians 8:1.

Now, when it comes to things that have been sacrificed to idols; We realize that everyone knows something [about this]. However, knowledge puffs up, while love builds up. (2001)

In your letter you asked me about food offered to idols. All of us know something about this subject. But knowledge makes us proud of ourselves, while love makes us helpful to others. (CEV)

Now I will write about meat that is sacrificed to idols. It is certainly true that "we all have knowledge," as you say. But this knowledge only fills people with pride. It is love that helps the church grow stronger. (ERV)

Now, concerning what you wrote about food offered to idols. It is true, of course, that "all of us have knowledge," as they say. Such knowledge, however, puffs a person up with pride; but love builds up.

Now, concerning food offered to false gods: We know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge makes people arrogant, but love builds them up. (GW)

Now about things offered to images: we all seem to ourselves to have knowledge. Knowledge gives pride, but love gives true strength. (BBE)


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